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European carriers are moving away from handset subsidies, analysts find | GigaOM Tech News

European carriers are moving away from handset subsidies, analysts find | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One by one, the signs point to the decline and perhaps demise of the mobile handset subsidy. Whether it’s Vodafone paying newfound attention to the high-end pay-as-you-go market or regulators threatening to let contract customers walk out in the event of a price hike, there are frequent signs that carriers won’t be subsidizing the smartphones they sell you forever.

 

In the U.S., this is a new thing. It was only in December that T-Mobile USA announced its abandonment of smartphone subsidies, much to the interest of other players such as Verizon, but in Western Europe things have moved on quite a bit further. In fact, according to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, almost 30 operators there have already dropped handset subsidies for some or most customers.

 

What’s taking the place of those subsidies? Leasing and financing plans, such as Vodafone’s Red Hot and O2 Germany’s My Handy schemes. According to Informa analyst Francesco Radicati, this makes it easier for operators to cope with the growing popularity of expensive smartphones:

 

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I Want to Live Inside This House Hidden In This Cliff | Adam Clark Estes | Gizmodo.com

I Want to Live Inside This House Hidden In This Cliff | Adam Clark Estes | Gizmodo.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cliffs are beautiful, terrifying, and exhilarating all at the same time. Can you imagine living inside of a glass house that was built inside of the edge of a cliff? This is what a couple of Greek architects are proposing.

Behold: Casa Brutale. This architectural concept is more or less a concrete box that’s nestled into the side of a cliff. For a roof and massive skylight, there’s a glass-bottomed pool on top. The designers, Open Platform for Architecture (OPA), would like to build the house on the high cliffs above the Aegean Sea with a towering glass wall that overlooks the ocean. In their own words, “Casa Brutale redefines the harmonious coexistence of human and nature in a poetic homage to pure Brutalism.”

Sounds fine to me. If I had the money, I would build this house in Greece and drive across a vast plain of dust in my European sports car and dive into my rooftop pool while gazing down into the guts of the Earth. But alas, I am just a blogger who lives inside a box built inside a larger box in a city full of boxes. That can be brutal, too, by the way.


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DE: Chemours launches with questions about its future | Jeff Mordock | DelwareOnline.com

DE: Chemours launches with questions about its future | Jeff Mordock | DelwareOnline.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Analysts started raising red flags about the sustainability of the Chemours Co. long before its logo was installed on the DuPont Building in downtown Wilmington this week.

Wednesday marked the official start date of the new company, capping a process that began in October 2013 to spin off the performance chemical division of DuPont Co. into a standalone, publicly traded business. The launch ended an era for Delaware's historical chemical giant and a change in the largest tenant of the 13-story DuPont Building at 1007 N. Market St., the headquarters of DuPont since 1908. With the spinoff, the DuPont headquarters moved to suburban Chestnut Run and Chemours moved into the former space.

The question now is: Can Chemours – which has 9,100 employees, including 1000 in Delaware – survive the transition as an independent operation? The company takes over some of the products that helped DuPont become a global chemical leader, including Teflon, the lubricant Krytox, synthetic rubber Viton and refrigerant Opteon.

The spinoff, DuPont officials have said, was needed so they could restructure and focus on faster-growing and better-performing parts of the company that have stable earnings. The challenge is that Chemours, with 37 sites and more than 5,000 customers, has inherited a score of the tricky problems that dogged DuPont, including up to $1 billion in environmental liabilities accrued from 200 years of manufacturing.

Chemours assumes the legal and remediation costs for 190 contaminated sites across the country. Environmental costs have sapped nearly $300 million from DuPont's budget, and the company acknowledged in a regulatory filing that cleanup and other expenses could surpass $1 billion.

Jim B. Shein, a professor of business strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois, said only a handful companies have transferred liabilities to a spinoff. It could become something of a model if DuPont revenue improves, he said. But there are risks.

"From the standpoint of DuPont, this is a smart move," Shein said. "From the standpoint of Chemours, I'm not so sure. It's an interesting way to get rid of the liabilities."


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PORT Urbanism and R2 Companies Propose Plan to Revitalize Chicago’s Goose Island | Arch Daily

PORT Urbanism and R2 Companies Propose Plan to Revitalize Chicago’s Goose Island | Arch Daily | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Hoping to reverse the fortunes of this small but distinctive area of Chicago, real estate development firm R2 Companies and urban planning group PORT Urbanism have teamed up to devise a plan to renew Goose Island. A man-made island with a long history of manufacturing, Goose Island lacks the revenue stream of many other Chicago regions, but the development team hopes to improve conditions by 2025 by enabling it to develop into a sustainable, high-tech neighborhood connected to Chicago’s urban grid.


Created in 1853 by the dredging of the North Branch Canal, Goose Island was a major manufacturing and shipping center for almost one hundred years, but after World War II, manufacturing companies began to move to move to the suburbs, and fewer jobs were available. After a lengthy economic slump, the city began to see an upturn in economic conditions when legislators created incentives for developers to build in Chicago - but in spite of organizations like the Wrigley Corporation and Kendall College who have made Goose Island their home, the area has not kept up fiscally with other parts of Chicago.


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Renewable Energy from the Ocean One Step Closer with Completion of Biowave Construction | PR NewsWire

Ocean energy company, BioPower Systems (BPS), has completed the construction and onshore testing of a 250kW bioWAVE pilot demonstration unit.

The project is supported by an AUD11 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a AUD5 million grant from the Victorian Government and AUD5 million equity from BPS.

The unique bioWAVE comprises a 26-metre tall oscillating structure that sways back-and-forth beneath the ocean swell, capturing energy from the waves and converting it into electricity fed into the grid via an undersea cable.

The structure is scheduled for deployment at Port Fairy in Victoria Australia later this year. The data collected from the project, combined with the experience gained, is expected to help drive down the cost of wave energy, and contribute to further development of the bioWAVE towards commercial production.

Importantly, during infrequent extreme wave events, the structure will automatically assume a "safe" position lying flat against the seabed. This reduces the structural design requirements (and hence cost) while maintaining reliability.

"Achieving practical completion of the bioWAVE is a major milestone in the development of this technology," said the CEO of BPS, Dr Timothy Finnigan. "We look forward to seeing it operating in the Southern Ocean, developing the next generation machine and exploiting the technology around the world."

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the AUD21 million project would further cement Australia's position as a leader in renewable wave energy.

"Once successfully installed, it will be the second ARENA supported device to supply wave energy to a major Australian grid, feeding 250 KW into the National Electricity Market," Mr Frischknecht said.


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Brazil announces massive reforestation and renewable energy plan with US | Suzanne Goldenberg & Dan Roberts | The Guardian

Brazil announces massive reforestation and renewable energy plan with US | Suzanne Goldenberg & Dan Roberts | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff put climate change at the top of their agenda at their bilateral meeting on Tuesday, with the US and Brazil agreeing to obtain up to 20% of their electricity from renewable power by 2030.

Brazil also committed to restoring up to 12m hectares of forest – an area about the size of England or Pennsylvania – in another attempt to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

The White House said the initiatives were part of a new US-Brazil climate partnership, loosely modelled on the historic US-China agreement reached during Obama’s visit to Beijing last November, intended to build momentum for a global deal to fight climate change in Paris at the end of the year.

“Following progress during my trips to China and India, this shows that the world’s major economies can begin to transcend some of the old divides and work together to confront the common challenge that we face,” said Obama at a joint press conference with his Brazilian counterpart.

Rousseff also heralded the agreement as a highlight of her trip, claiming it would help progress towards a global emissions reductions agreement at upcoming talks in Paris.

“Climate change is one of the central challenges of the 21st century,” she said. “And we have one important objective, which is, number one, to ensure that the energy mix in our two countries will have a substantial share of renewable sources of energy.

“As countries that are as vast as continents, we have this very important greenhouse gas emissions target,” added Rousseff. “We attach a great deal of importance to reducing [deforestation].. and we also wish to turn the page and engage in a clear-cut reforestation-oriented policy.”

The pledge will require the US to triple its production of wind and solar power and other renewable energies. Brazil will need to double its production of clean energy. The figures do not include hydro power.


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Rich and poor countries alike have been putting forth their commitments, known as nationally determined contributions, to reduce emissions as part of the treaty, which world leaders hope to finalise later this year in Paris.

Brazil also plans to expand renewable energy sources other than hydropower to between 28% and 33% of its total energy mix by 2030.

And in the electricity sector, the US and Brazil jointly announced intentions to increase their share of renewable, non-hydropower sources to 20% by 2030. Deese said boosting renewables that high in the US would be dependent on controversial power plant emission limits that the Obama administration has proposed.

“We believe that this is an ambitious target, but one that is actually achievable and will create new low-cost opportunities for the American economy,” Deese said. “To achieve it, we’re going to have to continue to hit our marks in implementing the regulations we’ve identified to date.”

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We need to grow 50% more food yet agriculture causes climate change. How do we get out of this bind? | Mark Cackler | The Guardian

We need to grow 50% more food yet agriculture causes climate change. How do we get out of this bind? | Mark Cackler | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

We are trapped in a vicious cycle: we will need to grow 50% more food by 2050 to feed 9 billion people but agriculture, which is paradoxically vulnerable to climate change, generates 25% of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. The more we grow using conventional methods, the more we exacerbate the problem. It’s time for a climate-smart agriculture but first we must address a few man-made problems.

First, there is a frustrating lack of attention paid to agriculture in the current global climate talks leading up to the Paris conference later this year. By definition, food production affects all countries, rich and poor, and it is hard to imagine any effective post-Kyoto climate change agreement that ignores 25% of the problem. So, we need a climate change agreement where agriculture is a big part of the solution, and delivers a triple win: higher agricultural productivity to feed more people and raise the incomes of poor farmers - especially women, greater climate resilience, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, we still grow our food largely using 20th century technology - over 100 years old in the case of fertilizer production! We need more and better agricultural research to bring farming into the 21st century. Other sectors like energy have made great breakthroughs in remarkably short periods of time, but where is the “electric car” for agriculture? The Copenhagen Consensus concludes that agricultural research is one of the single most effective investments we could make to fight malnourishment. Therefore, we need more support for bodies like the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research that focus on crops and cropping systems that are of greatest importance to poor farmers and poor countries. Such research is a global public good that the private sector cannot be expected to deliver alone.

Third, agriculture, like other sectors, ‘wastes’ carbon because we don’t price it properly. Carbon pricing is an essential way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and lower climate risks. Whether through carbon markets, carbon taxes, or performance measures, a price on carbon can drive investment toward a greener agriculture, a cleaner economy and ultimately, more food for all.

Fourth, agriculture today consumes 70% of the world’s fresh water, and too much of it is wasted. We must become wiser about water, especially because of climate change. One example of better water management is in rice cultivation. Growing rice can use enormous quantities of water, but new farming techniques, like those developed by the CGIAR, can drastically reduce water use and also reduce the amount of methane from rice cultivation.

Hunger has many causes, including ignorance and injustice and violence, and there is no single solution that will guarantee that every person, every day, everywhere, has enough to eat. But, as incredulous as it sounds, even though one in nine people go hungry today, it is within our power to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. We can build a better food system, based on climate smart agriculture that will grow more food, raise farmer incomes, and protect our land, water and biodiversity. And we can eliminate world hunger.


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California Regulators Find Several “Significant And Unavoidable Impacts” Of Fracking, Approve Nine Offshore Frack Jobs Anyway | Mike Gaworecki | DeSmog Blog

California Regulators Find Several “Significant And Unavoidable Impacts” Of Fracking, Approve Nine Offshore Frack Jobs Anyway | Mike Gaworecki | DeSmog Blog | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

California regulators released a final environmental review yesterday that found fracking has “significant and unavoidable impacts” — less than a week after they approved nine new offshore frack jobs.

The state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) released its final report on the environmental impacts of extreme oil extraction techniques like fracking and acidization, and found multiple impacts to air quality, public safety and the climate that “cannot be mitigated.”

A state law passed in 2013, SB 4, set a January 1, 2015 deadline for both the environmental impact report and a new set of regulations for well stimulation techniques to go into effect the same day.

DOGGR wrote the regulations, California’s first-ever rules on fracking, and they went into effect on the first of the year, as ordered.

Now, six months later, the agency has finally released the independent scientific study on well stimulation techniques that the regulations were supposed to be based on.

“California has reversed the regulatory process when it comes to fracking,” Jackie Pomeroy, a spokesperson for CAFrackFacts, said in a statement.

“State regulators finalized California's fracking regulations a full six months before the environmental impacts of these unconventional well stimulation techniques were understood. We now know that these techniques come with serious risks that cannot be mitigated.”


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UK: New technology will bring super-fast broadband to remote areas of Dartmoor and Exmoor | Western Morning News

UK: New technology will bring super-fast broadband to remote areas of Dartmoor and Exmoor | Western Morning News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Nearly 6000 homes and businesses located in some of the most remote areas in the Westcountry could soon be enjoying super-fast broadband thanks to a new system that utilises wireless radio-powered networks attached to transmitter pylons or masts.

Connecting Devon and Somerset has announced that the company Airband will be the delivery partner for the next phase of a super-fast broadband programme already in place across Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.

The national parks represent some of the most challenging terrain for connecting remote rural communities to super-fast broadband - and now Worcester-based Airband, a specialist in high speed wireless broadband for rural areas, will be responsible for connecting some 5,800 homes and businesses through a fixed wireless access network in the two areas.

This is in addition to the existing "Phase 1" rollout which is said to be on track to deliver super-fast broadband to around 90% of homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset by the end of 2016.

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Planned new submarine cable between Europe and Latin America: Joint Venture agreement signed | Europa.eu

Planned new submarine cable between Europe and Latin America: Joint Venture agreement signed | Europa.eu | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The submarine optical fibre cable between Europe and Latin America will link Lisbon (Portugal) with Fortaleza (Brazil). This initiative will bring the 2 continents closer and boost education, research and innovation as well as business exchanges. It should reduce connection costs and provide many more households, organisations and companies with a very high-speed Internet connection. A EULALINK Joint Venture agreement between the two consortium partners, Telebras of Brazil and Islalink of Spain, has just been signed.
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The European Commission will support a group of public actors gathered in the consortium BELLA (Building European Link to Latin America) who can take advantage of the new capabilities offered by the future cable. The goals are to improve the interconnection of the regional research and education networks of Europe and Latin-America and the intra-regional academic connectivity in Latin-America, in order to achieve policy objectives related to international cooperation and regional development, e-infrastructure, security and space.

BELLA is composed of 12 European and Latin American Research and Education Networks: RedCLARA (the Latin American regional network), GEANT (the European regional network), and the networks from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. BELLA will count on the support of several European and Latin American public actors, and the expected contribution of the European Commission is around 26 m€.


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Thirsty Yet? Eight Cities That Are Improbably Running out of Water | Marc Herman | TakePart.com

Thirsty Yet? Eight Cities That Are Improbably Running out of Water | Marc Herman | TakePart.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Earlier this year, an obscure United Nations document, the World Water Development Report, unexpectedly made headlines around the world. The report made the startling claim that the world would face a 40 percent shortfall in freshwater in as soon as 15 years. Crops would fail. Businesses dependent on water would fail. Illness would spread. A financial crash was likely, as was deepening poverty for those just getting by.

The U.N. also concluded that the forces destroying the world’s freshwater supply were not strictly meteorological, but largely the result of human activity. That means that with some changes in how water is managed, there is still time—very little, but enough—for children born this year to graduate from high school with the same access to clean water their parents enjoyed.

Though the U.N. looked at the issue across the globe, the solutions it recommended—capturing rainwater, recycling wastewater, improving sewage and plumbing, and more—need to be implemented locally. Some of the greatest challenges will come in cities, where bursting populations strain systems designed to supply far fewer people and much of the clean water available is lost to waste and shoddy, centuries-old infrastructure.

We’ve looked at eight cities facing different though representative challenges. The amount of water in the earth’s atmosphere is more or less fixed, meaning that as populations and economies grow, what we have needs to be clean, available, and conserved. Economies, infrastructure, river systems, and climates vary from place to place, and the solutions will have to as well.


Here is how eight of the world’s major cities are running out of water, and trying to save it.


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Why Pope Francis Killed It on Addressing Climate Change | George Lakoff | AlterNet

Why Pope Francis Killed It on Addressing Climate Change | George Lakoff | AlterNet | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Beginning with my book Moral Politics in 1996 (Ch. 12), I have been arguing that environmental issues are moral issues. There I reviewed and critiqued conservative metaphors of nature as a resource, as property, as an adversary to be conquered.

Instead I argued that we needed to conceptualize nature as the giver of all life, as sustainer and provider, as having inherent value, imposing responsibility, and deserving gratitude, love, adoration, and commitment.

I suggested alternative metaphors of nature as mother, as a divine being, as a living organism, as a home, as a victim to be cared for, and a whole with us as parts inseparable from nature and from each other.

Pope Francis in his Encyclical used all of these and then went much further. First, he got all the science right -- no small task. I have been writing for some time about role of systemic causation in global warming and the environment. The Pope not only got the ecological system effects right, but he went much, much further linking the environmental effects to effects on those most oppressed on earth by poverty, weather disasters, disease, ocean rise, lack of drinking water, the degradation of agriculture, and the essential aesthetic and spiritual contact with unspoiled nature. And more, he spoke of our moral responsibility toward animals.

He spoke in metaphors that might sound strange coming in a scientific or political speech, but somehow seem entirely natural for the Pope.

The title of the encyclical is "On Care for our Common Home." This simple phrase establishes the most important frame right from the start. Using the metaphor of the "Earth as Home," he triggers a frame in which all the people of the world are a family, living in a common home.

This frame carries with it many assumptions: As one family, we should care for each other and take responsibility for each other. A home is something we all depend on, physically and emotionally. A home is something inherently worth maintaining and protecting.


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Urban turbines mine wind power | Chelsey Coombs | Scienceline.org

Urban turbines mine wind power | Chelsey Coombs | Scienceline.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The skyline is changing in the outer boroughs of New York City, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, where an influx of young, rich people has led to an influx of tall, luxury office buildings and residential towers. Atop these buildings, the wind whips back and forth, turbulent and sporadic — and mostly wasted.

But on some of those buildings, whether they are residential, such as Long Island City’s Pearson Court Square and Downtown Brooklyn’s 388 Bridge St., or commercial, such as the Whole Foods in Gowanus, wind turbines stand tall, a testament to both engineering ingenuity and the public’s increasing green conscience.

“I don’t know if it’s Generation X or Generation Y, but we anticipated a lot of our tenants would be drawn to something different,” Ron Moelis, chief executive of the building’s developers, L&M Development, told the New York Times when Pearson Court Square was completed in May 2014.

Moelis’ statement hints at the dilemma of the urban wind turbine: it looks cool and seems like a nice idea, but its practicality is debatable. While more and more buildings are featuring small wind turbines — from those luxury apartment buildings in NYC to the Eiffel Tower — the economics of small turbines still generally don’t add up, experts say.


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Global warming threatens colder climate for Europe | Tim Radford | Climate News Network

Global warming threatens colder climate for Europe | Tim Radford | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists have yet again warned that weakening ocean circulation in the North Atlantic could deliver a climate paradox − a colder Europe as a consequence of global warming.

A study published in Nature Climate Change found that as sea ice off Iceland and Greenland retreats, the flow of cold, dense water to the bottom of the North Atlantic ocean could be reduced, and therefore weaken the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.

The great submarine current − sometimes called the Atlantic Conveyor − flows south to surface in the tropics as the Gulf Stream, which then flows north again to deliver tropic warmth to European coasts.

However, a slowdown in the natural overturning of the ocean could weaken the Gulf Stream, which in turn could cool the atmosphere over the British Isles and western Europe.

“A warm western Europe requires a cold North Atlantic, and the warming that the North Atlantic is now experiencing has the potential to result in a cooling over Western Europe,” says Kent Moore, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada.


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The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit | David Roberts | Vox.com

There has always been an odd tenor to discussions among climate scientists, policy wonks, and politicians, a passive-aggressive quality, and I think it can be traced to the fact that everyone involved has to dance around the obvious truth, at risk of losing their status and influence.

The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful shit.

The chart above is a plotting of dozens of climate modeling scenarios out to 2100, from the IPCC.


The black line is carbon emissions to date. The red line is the status quo — a projection of where emissions will go if no new substantial policy is passed to restrain greenhouse gas emissions.


We recently passed 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere; the status quo will take us up to 1,000 ppm, raising global average temperature (from a pre-industrial baseline) between 3.2 and 5.4 degrees Celsius.


That will mean, according to a 2012 World Bank report, "extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise," the effects of which will be "tilted against many of the world's poorest regions," stalling or reversing decades of development work. "A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided," said the World Bank president.


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You can’t fight climate change with denial | Michael Gerson | The Olympian

You can’t fight climate change  with denial | Michael Gerson | The Olympian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Reducing Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” to a white paper on global warming is, in George Weigel’s fitting analogy, “akin to reading ‘Moby Dick’ as if it were a treatise on the 19th-century New England whaling industry.” The whole spirit and story of the thing is missed.

The pope’s sprawling, ambitious statement — setting out a theory of nature and of the human person — will be profitably scrutinized for decades. Environmentalists who like some of Francis’ conclusions will find, if they sit quietly with the text rather than rummaging through it for the politically relevant bits, that the pope is making a frontal assault on a technological and utilitarian worldview that treats creation as “raw material to be hammered into useful shape,” reduces humans to mere consumers and treats inconvenient people as so much refuse.

In the pope’s vision, both nature and human nature are gifts to be appreciated and accepted, not despoiled or redefined. And the ultimate demonstration of God’s attitude toward nature is the incarnation, in which the creator — so the remarkable story goes — somehow became a crawling, puking, sleeping, living, dying creature, occupying a biological niche, in a thin layer of air, on a floating, fragile ball.

Francis is offended — infuriated, really — by how humans have treated their home and one another. And he has particularly harsh words for habits of consumption and exploitation in rich countries. The pope is frankly distrustful of global capitalism and the “logic of markets.” It is fair to say that Francis has a broader understanding of the (very real) flaws of the developed world than he has of the economic conditions that might allow large numbers of poor people to join the developed world. But an uncomfortable relationship with modernity — including classical liberal economics — is hardly new in Catholic social thought.

The pope’s environmental concerns are broad (clean drinking water and biodiversity rank high). But there is no getting around the fact that Francis regards potentially catastrophic, human-caused global warming as a fact. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climate system. … A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … released mainly as a result of human activity.”

In American politics, the pope’s encyclical has not made legislative action on climate change inevitable; but it has made the issue unavoidable. The politician’s shrug, “I’m no scientist,” is no longer acceptable. If climate change is a global threat, addressing it, as the pope argues, is both a moral and public requirement.


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Workshop on “Money and Sustainability: the Challenge of Sustainable Finance begins at School”scatol8® | scatol8®

Workshop on “Money and Sustainability: the Challenge of Sustainable Finance begins at School”scatol8® | scatol8® | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This issue of Sustainability is linked to the availability of natural resources for future generations and to the effects of changes brought about by economic activities, in terms of pollution, on environmental quality. These aspects are fundamental when investigating the conditions to ensure sustainability, with intra and intergenerational perspectives, through methods to track material and/or energy flows.


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Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source | PHYS.org

Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source | PHYS.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.


The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this kind of infrastructures can move wind turbines and produce energy.


The study is based in models and computer simulations, which were carried out by researcher Oscar Soto and his colleagues in Kingston University (London). Researchers have presented the wind turbines as porous discs in order to evaluate the air resistance and test different kind of configurations.


"As natural, the more surface is swiped by the rotor, the more power can be produced; however, it was seen that in small turbines the power rate per square meter is higher", explains Soto, who considers that the configurations with two identical turbines would be the most viable to be installed in viaducts.


If only produced power was evaluated, the best solutions would be the installation of two wind turbines with different sizes - in order to embrace the maximum available space-, or even a matrix of 24 small turbines - due to their power production per surface unit and low weight-, but concerning to viability, the best option is the one which includes two medium sized wind turbines.


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Discovery Brightens Solar's Future, Energy Costs to Be Cut | NBC News

Discovery Brightens Solar's Future, Energy Costs to Be Cut | NBC News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists in Switzerland announced a clean-energy breakthrough on Wednesday; a cheaper, solar technology that splits water molecules to create clean-burning hydrogen fuel.

The solar panel design will make it cheaper to produce hydrogen, but a simple version won't be available for average citizens for at least 10 years, scientists said.

Splitting water molecules to create hydrogen allows the sun's energy to be more easily stored to generate electricity or power clean cars.


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This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it's leaking | Coleen Jose, Kim Wall & Jan Hinzel | The Guardian

This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it's leaking | Coleen Jose, Kim Wall & Jan Hinzel | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Black seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.

At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.

Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.

Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to a 2013 report by the US Department of Energy, soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents.

Now locals, scientists and environmental activists fear that a storm surge, typhoon or other cataclysmic event brought on by climate change could tear the concrete mantel wide open, releasing its contents into the Pacific Ocean.

“Runit Dome represents a tragic confluence of nuclear testing and climate change,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who visited the dome in 2010.


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UK: Fibre broadband to reach 98% of West Yorkshire by end of 2018 | Ellen Branagh | Cable.co.uk

UK: Fibre broadband to reach 98% of West Yorkshire by end of 2018 | Ellen Branagh | Cable.co.uk | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Tens of thousands more homes and businesses in West Yorkshire will be able to access superfast broadband thanks to a new £13m contract.

The contract between West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and BT will bring superfast speeds to premises across West Yorkshire and York.

This second phase of the project will build on work already undertaken by Superfast West Yorkshire and BT’s own commercial rollout, to extend fibre coverage through the current area as well as into York and Kirklees.

More than 60,000 homes and businesses in the area are now able to connect to high-speed fibre, with the first phase of the project expected to be completed in September.

Phase Two will continue the rollout to both urban and rural areas, with an extra 28,000 homes and businesses expected to get access within the next three years.

By the end of 2018 more than 98% of homes and businesses in West Yorkshire and York are expected to have access to fibre.

Locations expected to be included in the second phase of the rollout include business parks, inner city and suburban areas and rural areas currently not served by a fibre broadband network.


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EU Bailout Terms Are Designed to Force Syriza From Power | Alexander Reed Kelly | Truthdig.com

EU Bailout Terms Are Designed to Force Syriza From Power | Alexander Reed Kelly | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The aim of German chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU powers in the Greek debt crisis is “apparently to humiliate Tsipras and his government in preparation for its early replacement with a more pliable administration,” writes Seamus Milne, associate editor of The Guardian.

“We know from the IMF documents prepared for last week’s ‘final proposals’ and reported in the Guardian that the creditors were fully aware they meant unsustainable levels of debt and self-defeating austerity for Greece until at least 2030, even on the most fancifully optimistic scenario,” Milne continues.

That’s because, just as the earlier bailouts went to the banks not the country, and troika-imposed austerity has brought penury and a debt explosion, these demands are really about power, not money. If they are successful in forcing Tsipras out of office, a slightly less destructive package could then be offered to a more house-trained Greek leader who replaced him.

The EU authorities are deeply averse to referendums, Milne writes. Whenever they favor policies that oppose EU policy, EU authorities urge the voting country to hold another referendum.

The EU elite behind this predicament is presenting itself as a defender of the interest of taxpayers in other EU countries—including those that adopted austerity—who are said to be paying for the Greek bailout, and who would be enraged by any debt forgiveness for Greece that wasn’t offered to them. “The realty is the other way around,” Milne writes.


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In Oklahoma, Fracking Companies Can Now Be Sued Over Earthquakes | Emily Atkin | Think Progress

In Oklahoma, Fracking Companies Can Now Be Sued Over Earthquakes | Emily Atkin | Think Progress | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you live in Oklahoma, and you’ve been injured by an earthquake that was possibly triggered by oil and gas operations, you can now sue the oil company for damages.

That’s the effect of a ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which on Tuesday rejected efforts by the oil industry to prevent earthquake injury lawsuits from being heard in court. Instead of being decided by juries and judges, the industry was arguing that cases should be resolved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, a state regulatory agency.

The state’s high court rejected that argument.

“The Commission, although possessing many of the powers of a court of record, is without the authority to entertain a suit for damages,” the opinion reads. “Private tort actions, therefore, are exclusively within the jurisdiction of district courts.”

The ruling is a win for Sandra Ladra, the woman at the center of the lawsuit. Ladra claims that on Nov. 5, 2011, she was watching television with her family when a 5.6 magnitude intraplate earthquake struck, causing huge chunks of rock to fall from her fireplace and chimney. Some of the rocks fell onto Ladra’s legs and into her lap, causing what the lawsuit describes as “significant injury.”

Ladra claimed $75,000 in damages against Tulsa-based oil and gas company New Dominion LLC, and Cleveland, Oklahoma-based Spess Oil Co. for allegedly causing the earthquake. According to the lawsuit, the companies directly caused the earthquake through wastewater injection, a common process in which oil companies take the leftover water used to drill wells and inject it deep into the ground.

There is some science to back up Ladra’s claim. A joint study by the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University, and the U.S. Geological Survey linked the 2011 earthquake to a wastewater injection. However, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has disputed that study, asserting that the earthquake was more likely the result of natural causes.


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California Drought Taking Serious Toll On Aging Sewer System In San Francisco | CBS

California Drought Taking Serious Toll On Aging Sewer System In San Francisco | CBS | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

California’s severe drought is taking a serious toll on San Francisco’s aging sewer system.

Some of the city’s 1,000 miles of sewer pipes are more than 100 years old, among the first installed after the Gold Rush.

The waste was getting dumped into the streets, the streets were getting all muddy, and they thought, let’s do something about that. So, they built these pipes,” SFPUC Assistant General Manager Tommy Moala said.

Few things in America have lasted 150 years. San Francisco’s sewer system is a working relic but one that works

You might think that the drought would give the sewer system a break, with not as much water going through it. But, while San Franciscans are sending less water down the drain because of conservation, the same, or more sewage is being sent through the system that isn’t being drained as well as before.

“It’s an organic material. It breaks down. It creates hydrogen sulfide. That eats up the concrete in the pipes if it sits there long enough,” Moala said.

With thousands of people moving into San Francisco, the city’s infrastructure continues to be taxed, no more so than the sewer system. But, sewer workers say they’ll do their best. It’s their duty.


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Amnesty International Told That GCHQ Spied On Its Communications | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Amnesty International Told That GCHQ Spied On Its Communications | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Amnesty International has been heavily engaged in fights against mass surveillance, recognizing that many of the people it communicates with need an expectation of privacy in their communications with the group. Last year, Ed Snowden revealed that the NSA specifically spied on Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. And, while Amnesty International was unable to gain standing by the US Supreme Court, since it couldn't prove that the NSA had spied on its communications, the story appears to be somewhat different over in the UK.

Last year a legal challenge was filed in the UK via the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) concerning Amnesty International. And now, the group has been informed that, yes, it was spied on by GCHQ in the UK.


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Leaked TPP Chapter Shows How It's A Massive Gift To Big Pharma And Against Public Health | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Leaked TPP Chapter Shows How It's A Massive Gift To Big Pharma And Against Public Health | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Over the last few years, we've seen leaks here and there of the various chapters of the TPP agreement, but generally ones that are quite out of date. The latest public leak of the "intellectual property" chapter that I'm aware of was done last October by Wikileaks and was the version from the previous May (2014). Now, Politico claims that someone has leaked the May 2015 version, though Politico has not published the document (which, frankly, is pretty lame for a journalism property). But, based on Politico's report, the agreement still looks to be what everyone's been saying it would be: a huge gift to giant corporate special interests, such as Big Pharma:

The draft text includes provisions that could make it extremely tough for generics to challenge brand-name pharmaceuticals abroad. Those provisions could also help block copycats from selling cheaper versions of the expensive cutting-edge drugs known as “biologics” inside the U.S., restricting treatment for American patients while jacking up Medicare and Medicaid costs for American taxpayers. “There’s very little distance between what Pharma wants and what the U.S. is demanding,” said Rohat Malpini, director of policy for Doctors Without Borders.

In response, the USTR falls back on its standard lame reply, about how draft texts are not "final." But this is why it's actually important to post these draft texts publicly, because what the draft Politico saw appears to show is that, whether or not it gets it, the USTR is fighting for policies that would harm poor, sick people, and massively benefit giant pharmaceutical conglomerates.


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